Nobody – Casualties of America’s War on the Vulnerable, from Ferguson to Flint and Beyond – By Marc Lamont Hill [Book Review]

After delivering a speech at the United Nations, Dr. Marc Lamont Hill became victimized by the media for speaking out for Palestinian rights. Following the perils of many equal rights activists he was immediately accused of anti-Antisemitism. Nothing was mentioned about Jews, or Judaism in a derogatory manner, he had made a statement criticizing the illegal occupation of Palestine by the State of Israel.

As a bizarre reaction following pressure, the response from CNN was to fire Marc from the station without discussion or even reason. This highlights the lack of freedom of speech when it comes to talking about Palestinian rights and any objective criticism of Israel. Dialogues are shut down before they even begin. This is how I knew this man had a lot to say that needed to be heard.

In Marc Lamont Hill’s recent book, ‘Nobody’ he discusses the bitter truth of vulnerable individuals becoming so neglected by society that they have become invisible. This book explores how minority groups such as the Black, Brown, immigrant, queer or trans lives have become increasing more vulnerable as State power has increased. It highlights the thousands of deaths by law enforcement every year where the common demographic is poor, young, mentally ill, unarmed and Black.

This book explores the protocol of a system engineered to intentionally target, exploit and criminalize minority groups.  It goes into depth of several cases of injustice such as that of Michael Brown who was killed by police despite being unarmed. These cases serve to prove there is a misconception that all people of colour are violent criminals and that minor crimes will indefinitely lead to more serious and violent ones. These individuals should therefore no longer be entitled to the same rights, citizenship and humanity as ‘innocent’ people in society. Justice is only an illusion, that cannot be obtained by members of minority groups no matter how conformitive they may try to be in a modern society.

State violence goes beyond direct effects, it creates a deep physiological trauma which leaves after effects as exemplified by the suicide rate of prisoners such as Paula Cooper. Dr. Hill touched on the privatisation of prisons and the ‘prison industrial complex’ where incarceration is a means of making money, the health of individuals foes not always come first. An echoing statistic shows 20% of American state prisons contain mentally ill citizens, the most vulnerable. The ‘quality of life law’ prohibits sleeping, sitting, eating and camping in public which has turned homelessness into a crime.

The book ends on a more positive note with the notion that these ‘nobodies’ are leading mass movements asserting that they are ‘somebody’ and are questioning the legitimacy of State power by creating movements against oppression, State violence and economic injustice. He reminds us that, ‘empires eventually fall, and that freedom is closer than we think’.

A thought provoking and unifying read.

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